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Nobel Prizes handed out today

What's so great about a Nobel, anyway?

By Rich_Maloof Dec 10, 2012 4:38PM

In a day and age when every kid on every team gets an award just for showing up, it’s nice to consider that there are still a few awards that recognize outstanding achievement, significant accomplishment, merit, and excellence  —  you know, doing something. 

Photo: REX FeaturesThe one award that rises high above all others for sheer prestige — the one that proves you’ve done something really extraordinary — is the Nobel Prize. Given every year since 1901, they are awarded for Peace, Economic Sciences, Chemistry, Medicine/Physiology, Literature, and Physics. And while it’s nice to get the attention that comes with the award — Nobel Laureates are presented with a medal and diploma by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden — it’s accompanied by some serious prize money: each winner is given 8 million Swedish kronor, or the equivalent of $1.2 million in U.S. cash.

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The prize was created by Alfred Nobel, a chemist who is otherwise remembered as the inventor of dynamite. Nobel made a fortune building a military arms company, but when a newspaper referred to him as the “merchant of death” he was appalled that such a moniker might be his legacy. So his will stated that his fortune be used to recognize people whose work benefitted mankind.

The award is given each year on Dec. 10, Nobel’s birthday (he died in 1896). Who picks the winners? The Peace Prize is given by a committee overseen by the Norwegian Parliament, while the other recipients are selected by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, The Swedish Academy, and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute (this odd Scandinavian division comes about because both countries were united under a common monarch when Nobel was alive).

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The ceremonies are held in Oslo, where the Nobel Peace Prize is given, and in Stockholm, where the other awards and the honorees’ banquet are held. You can watch the live broadcasts of the various ceremonies online today at the official website of the Nobel Prize.

And maybe, just maybe, it’ll inspire you to go for your own gold. It sure beats that trophy for “team spirit” that you and the twenty other kids on your T-ball team got.

Photo: REX Features

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